A better customer experience begins with a better service agent experience. Carole Edwards, Director of Customer Services at floor care brand Vax, explains how empowering her customer engagement team with better information and smarter processes has not only improved service levels, but also unlocked new revenue-generating opportunities.  

What prompted you to change how you were servicing customers?

We wanted to make customer service less effort, for us and for our customers. With nine different tools to navigate, our service team was doing its best, but it wasn’t properly equipped to deliver a seamless experience to our customers. With no joined-up view of the customer journey, people would have to repeat their conversations with our agents every time they called, which was inefficient and frustrating.

So how did you change things for the better? 

The service we provide today is so different to even two years ago! Our customer engagement team – we changed the name to reflect our fresh start - now has all the information it needs at its fingertips in Service Cloud. Every customer interaction is captured, from when they buy a product to every post-sales tweet, call, and email.

Empowered with this knowledge, our agents can have more informed and relaxed conversations with our customers, and resolve any issues faster. We’ve also automated key support processes to make things easier for customers and free up agent time. For example, if a customer has an outstanding claim, their telephone number is automatically recognised. So, instead of being routed via the IVR (interactive voice response) system, they are directed straight to the appropriate team. 

What other channels do you use for customer engagement?   

We aim to provide a blended experience so the customer can choose the channel that works best for them. Currently, about 50% of our customers choose self-service channels, followed by telephone, email, and lastly social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. Web chat has gone down really well with customers and is increasingly important: it’s displacing voice channel activity at an alarming rate and reducing email volume. We’re looking at introducing Facebook Messenger and video chat next, as well as rolling out an internal knowledge base.

How are you measuring success?

Even that’s changed. Instead of using traditional metrics, such as call handling times, we’re now focused on measuring the volume of customer interactions required to resolve an issue. As well as delivering a better customer experience, we’ve also seen a significant increase in sales, which was an added bonus.

With agents now having more meaningful conversations with customers, the average agent basket conversion has increased by an average of £10 per customer. In fact, we’re no longer seen as cost centre but a revenue generator. 

How has the transformation impacted the team?

They are so much happier. We’re now rated top for employee engagement across the entire company, and our attrition rate has continued to reduce further and is now 14%. The customer engagement team has also received industry recognition for their great work: we were awarded the Best Contact Centre of the Year for over 50 seats at the Midlands Contact Centre Forum Awards in 2015 and were finalists for 2016, as well as being awarded a ‘Highly Commended Accolade for Best Use of Technology’. 

What are the key success factors for a transformation like this? 

The challenge for most contact centres is dealing with growth: delivering a consistent experience across all channels whilst maintaining service levels and without increasing costs. Today we handle 70,000 contacts a month, an increase of 24%, with fewer resources. We have reduced budget, increased sales and empowered our agents, with less than 4% of contacts having to have a second intervention. With more satisfied customers, this is a great success for us!

Read the full success story to find out more about how Vax has transformed the customer experience with unified information, engaged staff and live chat.

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